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News Release

Release No. 0171.09
Office of Communications (202)720-4623

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WASHINGTON, May 15, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the names of additional people who will hold staff positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. These people will work in various agencies within the department.

"Today I'm pleased to announce additional staff who will work with President Obama and me to strengthen communities throughout our country, improve the environment, and ensure our food supply remains safe, sustainable and nutritious," said Vilsack.


Brandon Willis - Confidential Assistant. For the past three years, Willis has been the Agriculture Legislative Assistant for Senator Max Baucus. He grew up on a third generation sheep ranch in northern Utah and earned his bachelor's degree in crop and soil science from Utah State University, Logan, Utah. He also has a law degree from the University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo.


Justin Hatmaker - Special Assistant. Hatmaker most recently served as the Field Director for Barack Obama's Campaign for Change in Nebraska and also worked in six states for President Obama's primary campaign. Previously he worked on campaigns for Rep. Ben Chandler, Sen. Tom Daschle, Reform Ohio Now, and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party. Justin is a native of Vermilion, Ohio, and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.


Julie Grogan-Brown - Confidential Assistant. Grogan-Brown most recently worked as a Field Organizer for the Campaign for Change in Pahrump, Nev. She also previously taught civics to high school students at Northern High School in Durham, N.C., and conservation practices at Eagle's Nest Camp in Pisgah Forest, N.C., over several summers. Originally from Takoma Park, Md., she is a graduate of Manhattan College, Bronx, N.Y., and Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.


Orrin Evans - Special Assistant. Evans most recently worked on President Obama's presidential campaign. As one of the first field operatives in Iowa, he spent 2007 organizing and managing several counties to historic caucus victories. After continuing field operations in the primary battlegrounds of California, Texas and Indiana, Evans served as the deputy political director and GOTV director in Indiana for the general election. Building a coalition of state officials and constituency groups, he developed and implemented a rural vote plan which contributed to President Obama's victory and a Democrat winning the state for the first time in 40 years. Previously he helped manage Denise O'Brien's campaign for Secretary of Agriculture of Iowa in 2006. Originally from Los Angeles, he attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, Calif.


Magdey Abdallah - Confidential Assistant. Abdallah most recently served as an Associate in the Office of White House Counsel. During the 2008 general election, he was a Regional Field Director for the Obama campaign in Grand Rapids, Mich. He joined the campaign in New Hampshire in July 2007 and traveled to South Carolina, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina as a Field Organizer during the Democratic Primary. A graduate of Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass., with a degree in government, Abdallah has interned at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, New York, N.Y., and the William J. Clinton Foundation, New York, N.Y. He hails from Hopewell, N.J.